Business & Development, Community, Cottage Grove, Creswell, Outdoors, Pleasant Hill, Springfield

Sustainable landscaper’s business is blooming 

Morganic Roots owner, a former point guard, finds true outside game

COTTAGE GROVE — A couple of decades ago, the Morgan family was known as a basketball family.


After graduating from South Eugene High School in 2005, point guard Arnold E. Morgan Jr. – better known as J.R. Morgan – moved a few thousand miles away to play basketball at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez while earning a marketing degree. As his background is both Black and Puerto Rican, Morgan spent his 20s in Puerto Rico to connect with his roots and his culture.

“Something hit me where I was in search of happiness, true happiness,” Morgan said, now a Cottage Grove resident. “That’s when I started going within myself, and I started changing my diet. I started meditating, changing the way I thought, and that led me to gardening and growing food. It was like a light of motivation ignited my fire within, like ‘This is what I want to do.’”

He taught yoga, meditation, and gardening when he got back to the States and even started a nonprofit, but “that just didn’t flow financially.” So Morgan began working with Perennial Patterns Design, a landscaping business based in Eugene, which is where he “honed in on ornamental gardening and hardscaping.”

In 2017, after having gained enough momentum, Morgan launched Morganic Roots Eco Firm: a landscaping business which focuses on maintenance, installation, design, education, and sustainable, eco-friendly practices.

“When I first started, a lot of people thought I was crazy because I was going into organic gardening and just kinda (living) a minimalist lifestyle,” Morgan said, “but I had a vision of where I wanted to be and who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, and I just didn’t give up.”

Fast-forwarding three years, Morgan said there was a “huge demand” for businesses like his when the pandemic began “because people were at home, and you could work outside.” He added that the Black Lives Matter movement’s prevalence in 2020 also inspired people to support Black-owned businesses, which increased his clientele.

“I was really trying to capitalize on the situation, and I think I did a good job because I just stayed focused and kept my head down and kept working,” Morgan said. “Now, four years later, I’m at a point where I’m just trying to maintain the growth.

“I look at it like walking a dog. If you’re walking a dog, you don’t want the dog to be pulling you, and you don’t want the dog just to be sitting there. You want to be flowing with your dog, and that’s what I think of when I think of businesses. I don’t want the business to be just pulling me where I’m like, ‘Oh my God,’ and I don’t want it to just be stopped. I want to be in control of the business as it’s increasing, so I’m walking the dog.”

This is a structure the company built, showcasing its ability to work in hardscaping.

Morganic Roots Eco Firm works throughout Lane County from Eugene to Cottage Grove, and Morgan is currently working with the City of Eugene on his company’s largest contract thus far.

Green infrastructure specialist Cristine Inglis said the project entails landscape maintenance in the public stormwater treatment facilities, which clean stormwater before it flows into the river.

“One of the things that made Morganic Roots stand out (among the other landscaping companies which submitted bids to the City) is their commitment to native plants and our natural processes and sustainability,” she said.

Having earned many certifications – from horticulture proficiency to advanced permaculture design – it’s no surprise Morgan considers himself a plant expert.

“A lot of your mow-and-blow landscapers will come, and they’ll do a great job mowing and blowing off your patio, but they’ll kill your plants,” Morgan said. “What I did was create Morganic Roots into a landscaping business that is influenced by permaculture and sustainable gardening.”

Matt Harman, who has worked at Morganic Roots Eco Firm for a few months, said this work aligns with how highly he values taking care of the environment. He added that it’s nice to work for a company which stems from a “holistic mindset.”

“(What) seems to set (Morganic Roots Eco Firm) apart from a lot of other businesses in this line of work is the eco-friendly, regenerative approach to things, so using a lot of native plants and techniques to prevent pests and bring in beneficial insects instead of using chemicals,” Harman said. “I think, in an ecological sense, that’s really a big step in the right direction.”

Although Morgan described his road as “a very hard journey,” he said with confidence that he would “never go back and change anything because all my failures were learning lessons.”

Now at 37 years old, he’s able to use his life experience and education to give advice to others through speaking at events. His next one is Springfield Chamber’s Small Business Solutions Hub on March 22 on the topic of Business Growth Strategies and Excellence in Leadership. It is a hybrid program that will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. He will be joined by Mia Bowman, owner of The Soul Garden.

“I want to inspire people of color. It was our ancestors who were originally doing this work, and we can never forget that,” Morgan said. “Not everyone is going to be an athlete. Not everyone is going to be a musician. We’ve got to try to find different avenues where we can be successful. With permaculture, it’s endless. You just keep learning and growing and experiencing, and it’s just this huge circle of positive momentum.

“I want people to know, no matter your skin color, no matter your wealth, there’s meaningful opportunities that can benefit your life and also the world – and there’s no better time than right now to get involved with permaculture.”



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